Tenth Step: Summary and Synopsis

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“Teacher, teach thyself……….”

If you have been with me for the past few weeks, you’ve spent a few minutes reading the Daily Affirmations from my study of The Tenth Step:
“We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Never underestimate the power of pen and paper in bringing change to bear

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We had good reasons and motivations for this “working”. As we began the question was imposed:

Now that we were living clean and sober, how is it that we could find emotional balance? What were the methods by which we could live to a good purpose under all conditions of our daily affairs?

A premise immediately appeared to us. We would have to embark on a quest to continue our practice of regular inventory and personal analysis, specifically assessing our spiritual condition. It was being regularly aggravated by emotional hangovers; patterns of reactions that we found we really needed to change into responses instead. These knee jerk impulses, conditioned by years of damaging behavior patterns needed adjustment, if not replacement.

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Now clear to us, these errors had to be thoroughly scrutinized. Rigging-up an antenna to bring awareness in the onslaught of our problems was a good place to start. We would become more regular in recognizing our shortcomings when they occurred, even to the point of giving ourselves a heads-up when we sensed them coming onto us.

Living the “Victim Mentality” had to go. “Oh true”, there was no doubt that circumstances arose by which we were caught in life’s situational collisions, but seemingly fair or not, we would begin to seek a realistic solution by discovering what actually was wrong with us. Where was it that our emotional reactions of Pride, Fear, Anger, Jealousy and melancholy Sadness, (all largely self-imposed), needed to be mitigated into measured responses. As a result of this practice we would see it clearly. We were going to have to change.

Our first effort upon sensing these flair-ups was to calm ourselves. Mini-Breath Meditations were extremely helpful in bringing us to a more relaxed state by which we could ask ourselves those old questions we learned in our 4th Step; the template by which we turned our primordial instincts of reaction into reason:

  • Who were we cross with or what were we upset about?
  • How did we feel we had been slighted? Was it our pride or did we feel we were not going to keep what we had, get what we want or get caught at something?
  • What was it that we were truly afraid of?
  • How important was this brainstorm upon us,… really? Was it worth the emotional turmoil our conditioned reaction was putting us through?

These first two simple practices found us regaining control and brought us to a state of restraint. We controlled our pens (now our keyboards, lol) and our tongues (now our cellphone tirades :).

Low and behold, we discovered that slowly, through this steady practice, we were making change. In the course of days, weeks and months – a significant difference was possible.

Our Sixth Step adage came back to us: “Any person capable of enough willingness, honesty” and humility, that applied Step Ten on all of their faults – trying their level best to avoid reservations – indeed would come a long way spiritually in their path towards finding contentment.

We were learning to precede our usual “Tasmanian Devil-like Flair-ups” by stepping back and thinking first!

Adopting this new attitude was well-aided when we began remembering that others are having just as hard a time as us in this quest for emotional balance and control; although we might have regularly thought prior to this effort that we were victims of their intentional disrespect, malice and carelessness we discovered:

“All people, including ourselves are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong.” This allowed us to approach a response of true tolerance and patience, the essence of genuine love for our fellow man.

( quote: AA12x12 pg 92)

This question needed to be imposed for it was truly the Golden Rule of all times:

“Am I doing to others as I would have them do to me — at this moment”?

  • Finally, we found that change by practice of Step Ten did not come overnight; that we would have to be patient and tolerant of ourselves, for “old habits die hard”. But, utilizing the Five P’s of Recovery helped us achieve our goals:
  • Principles
  • Practice
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • Prayer

Step Ten: The Reality of Spiritual Growth

*REMINDER: Three more days of free readings from the book:

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Autumn – Landscape of Spiritual Reflection

 

 

 

October 3
Growth in the World of the Spirit

“Where do we get started in this spiritual business?” you ask. The first function of growth in our new world of spirituality is to find some understanding and effectiveness. For most, no time will come when the moment brings a sudden revelation or overnight event. This garden process is likely to occur slowly, over the rest of our lives.
We’ll be watching for signs of resentment, selfishness, dishonesty,
and fear creeping into our spiritual sub-consciousness. Are we thinking of our own selfish needs above this new stance we seek to acquire toward others? As honesty is a new priority in our policy, is there something that we have rationalized that really doesn’t represent the truth? There may be resentment or the righteous indignation of anger creeping in that we should attend to. Furthermore, what is it that we are truly afraid of that has brought us to this point?

Whenever we feel these old patterns start to crop up, we ask God to
remove them. The next order of contemplation is to consider: “Should we discuss these with someone right away, or set straight-out to make amends to those we believe we have offended?”

Our task is to make these actions into an instinctive nature for our
new practice of self-examination. As to emotional overreactions, we
will need this new approach toward those spiritual maladies before
they occur. After these efforts, we will have the opportunity to choose channeling our thoughts into helping another, for love and tolerance are to become our new code.

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Step Ten: Continuing Personal Inventory

Previously, we’ve concentrated on Step Ten and the Tenth Tradition, but having missed the first two weeks of the books Daily Affirmations, we return to their study. Please pardon the date sequence inconsistency.

Recovery is a series of steps, in which repetition is the key.

October 1
Of Practical Use on a Daily Basis

Up to this point we’ve prepared ourselves for a new life adventure:
living one day at a time. Now, whether the weather in which we live grows fair or foul, we put our newest principle to practical use on that singular basis. The critical test will be: Can we stay sober, live in a state of emotional balance, and find good purpose in our lives under all conditions we come across?

In order to do so, we find a continuous look at both our assets and
liabilities, coupled with our strong desires to learn and grow, are attitudes we’ll need for success.

The Road To Recovery is a Spiritual Journey

A great number of us have learned the hard way: this isn’t a theory at all. Self-survey and self-criticism have been practiced unsparingly
by more experienced people than us at times and places gone by, and such wise people have known throughout the ages that in order to make something of one’s life, a regular pattern of self-searching and evaluation needs to be put into practical use in considering every day’s moments. To be successful at this, we will need to admit and accept what we find out about ourselves from this effort. Then, with our greatest patience and persistence we continue to practice and correct what we’ve found is wrong.

Tenth Tradition: No Opinion on Outside Issues

The book continues for another four days to examine the 10th Tradition. Having missed the first few weeks of Step Ten prior to deciding to offer my readers free excerpts for this month, I return tomorrow to that important work.
Not that our traditions in recovery are not important, for “personal recovery depends on our Unity”, the cohesiveness of which is supported by our mutual agreement to observe our fellowship behavioral norms.

Recovery is always a matter of choices. Which path will you follow?

October 31
Too Many Stews Can Topple the Cooks

The abolition of slavery was an example of a stormy political issue in
the 1860s. It wasn’t too long after the alcoholic agenda lost its status
as foremost in purpose that the Washingtonians’ speakers became
violent and public, taking sides on this question. Maybe their society
could have survived the abolition controversy, but it was headed right into doom’s direction when it became determined to reform America’s drinking habits.

At the time they became temperance crusaders, the Washingtonians
only continued a few more years before it became clear they had
lost their effectiveness in helping alcoholics, instead concentrating on
issues that stepped outside the boundaries of their original direction.

The lesson learned by the Washingtonians was not overlooked by
Alcoholics Anonymous. When the wreck of their movement was surveyed, the early members of A.A. resolved to keep our society out of public controversy.

Thus was laid the cornerstone of Tradition Ten: “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.”

 

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Tradition Ten: We Avoid Religion and Politics

   The Fairy Woods of Fall

 

In our continuing study of the Tenth Tradition, we see that in order for us to maintain common ground in our focus on recovery, we ought to avoid controversy over Politics and Religion as well as other items of public controversy.

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October 26
Religion and Politics Have Been the Doom of Others

Old Aesop’s Greek adage “United we stand, divided we fall” is a fundamental lesson here, as is “Discretion is the better part of valor.” Any fellowship that bickers over issues like politics and religion is destined to follow the fate of other recovery groups that strayed from their main course, crumbling over divisions in their ranks. We must adhere to our policy of agreement on side-stepping such outside interests, focusing together on our primary purpose.

You could say we have developed a deep fundamental instinct; we
A.A.’s have known from our beginning we must never, no matter what the provocation, publicly take sides in a fight, though at times it has seemed there was reason.

Controversy has tempted some groups into thinking they were designed for its battles. Sheer self-righteousness has torn others to tatters as they tried to force some millennium of their own specifications on mankind. We have seen millions die in political and economic wars that were spurred by religious, political, and racial differences.

Though we live in the shadow of what some see as an imminent
holocaust over how all peoples shall be governed, within the fellowship of A.A. we must avoid such controversial temptations, lest they divide and divert us.

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10th Tradition: We Avoid Public or Private Argument

Harvest Moon: Silent Witness of the October Night

The Tenth Tradition
“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”

October 25
We Argue Neither Publicly or Privately

Not once since its inception has Alcoholics Anonymous been split
over a major controversial public issue. Though heated discourses
come out publicly in an often embattled world, we never take sides
on a question as a fellowship.

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It might be said we were born with this stance, as opposed to earning it, for practically never have we heard a steamy religious, political, or reform argument among A.A. members in the course of their good Twelfth-Step work.

It’s a cinch that when it comes to our fellowship as a whole, if we don’t argue these matters privately we shall never do so publicly. As if by instinct, we A.A.’s have been aware from our beginnings that we must never, no matter how provoked, publicly take sides in any fight, even when it looks like it’s a worthy one.

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Nations have fractured into opposite sides and then finally been torn asunder because they themselves fell into the temptations of controversy.

We do not want to follow the fate of the Washingtonians, another alcoholic group that got caught up in the polarity of public matters.

Living the 10th Step: Learning By Self-Searching

 Spiritual Paths of Autumn – Season of Change

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October 24
Self-Searching Is the Method by Which We Learn

When we feel ourselves getting tangled up in pride, anger, and fear, we will realize our emotional balance is tilted. That’s when we step back and think, applying admission and correction of errors in the now. After some term of practice, it will automatically occur to us that when we’re disturbed something is wrong with us. In all unbalanced moments we will need self restraint, honest analysis, a willingness to admit, and a willingness to forgive.

Our first objective will become self-restraint, in particular of pen and
tongue. There is no room for quick-tempered criticism or power-driven argument, nor can we immerse ourselves in sulking or silent scorn.

We will realize that justified anger is not something we can handle or
separate from a flash of rage or frenzy. For us, all these conditions are emotional booby traps, each baited with pride and vengefulness.

In time, we will become aware that like ourselves, all people are to some extent emotionally sick and frequently wrong. When we witness this in ourselves and others, we learn to apply courtesy, kindness, justice, and love in an effort to come into harmony. Our objective is going to become an honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to forgive and try for better tomorrows.

Finally, we note that at least some things have been done well in our
day. Searching our hearts with neither fear nor favor, we lay ourselves to rest in good conscience.

Beginning tomorrow, the Tenth Tradition:

“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”

* Focused on a continuing journey of Spiritual Development and maintenance of our long-term Sobriety, when it comes to our fellowship we keep our nose OUT of the Frey.

Tenth Step Affirmation: Calming Ourselves

Here is today’s installment from the book of Daily Affirmations in the Classical Revival of our 12 Step Recovery Principles: http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
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*Comprehension tip: read slowly, pausing often throughout.

October 23
Putting Out the Fire Before It Starts

When fire conditions are dry, one keeps a sharp eye to avoid actions
that might set a spark into a blaze. We find it much the same when it
comes to our emotions for they can be fast-burning fuel. With fear,
anger, jealousy, and their like, one spark of heated temper turns what we could have kept under control into a heated roaring incident of rage.

The idea we are trying to learn through this principle of the Tenth Step is preventative action before our later evaluation. When the smoke starts to rise from our smoldering tempers, we remember our precept:

“Whenever we find ourselves disturbed there is something wrong with us.”

If we apply the lessons we have studied we’ll step back and think, counting to ten or a hundred before we allow ourselves to react, instead of respond. our first order is to regain our composure. Self-restraint, especially when it comes to pen and tongue, are the strongest of our preventative measures.

We’ll want to apply that before we explode, for we know from
reactions of the past, afterwards it is too far gone to put out the fire.
It will pay us well to remember that the people with whom we
are becoming impatient and intolerant, like us, are frequently ill with
emotional sickness and often wrong in what they say or do. They are we find, just as human as we are.

Once we have regained our composure, we can bring about the
courtesy, kindness, justice, and love that bring us into harmony with
almost anyone. If we catch ourselves before a heated incident, we can chill it down with restraint and tolerance.

Our Tenth Step: Acquiring Inventory Habits

Autumn’s Path to Spiritual Progress

October 22

An Inventory Habit Produces Our Lessons

The reaction patterns we usually display didn’t happen overnight, but took many years of repetition. Evolving into a predictable outcome by decades of re-occurrence, our following a new way of responding may take awhile. In order for these changes to become regular, with results of noticeable improvement, patience and persistence will be the keys to correcting what’s wrong. As we acquire the habit of daily inventory, learning to spot, admit, and correct behavioral flaws found in pride, anger, anxiousness, and fear, we’ll discover the essence of character building. With time, a chance for better living, brought on through this exercise in personal accountability, will no longer seem futile, but become
productive, bringing us general happiness. We are going to develop
an attitude of honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for
blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow.   
These skills are the permanent assets we seek in the learning process brought by practicing these lessons. If our inventory is the spot-check kind, we remember: first we exercise restraint. After that, we ought to consider the authentic nature of our motives before reacting, allowing us then to respond. At day’s end, we’ll take some time to measure the trials and successes our life has led us to encounter. As the occasion permits, we can inventory one or more months with our spiritual advisor or sponsor, discovering insight. When the year comes to a close, taking a day or so to reflect over the events of our life can bring us progress. All these inventories will unfold our lessons before us.

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Tenth Step: Searching Ourselves for the Truth

October 21

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

When we rationalize our bad motives underneath a justification of being good, it takes a hard look to uncover the real truth of the matter.

Perhaps we “constructively criticized” someone we were sure needed it, but when we stepped back and looked at our real motivation, it may have been little more than an effort to win a useless argument to justify our superiority and soothe our egos. Was it our thought that we were helping others to understand our reasons, when in actuality our true motive was to feel superior by pulling them down.

Sometimes, we rationalized that we hurt those we love because we were sure they “needed to be taught a lesson,” but underneath those reasons what we really wanted was to punish them. We may have said we were depressed and felt bad, when in fact we were just seeking sympathy and attention.

An odd trait of mind and emotion, it’s no more than a perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, seeming to permeate human affairs from top to bottom. Subtle and illusive, this form of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought.
If we pursue it with good effort, this examination becomes regular
practice for us, resulting in a marked change of our behavior patterns.

We’ll observe that things are often not as they appear and with practice, we can alter commonly premature and cynical conclusions. When it comes to our motives we will need to search our conscience with an effort to find their true appearance.

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